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Utsalady [Utsaladdy] Ladies Aid

This longtime Camano Island women's club will celebrate its 100th anniversary on March 8, 2008.

Begun by the Scandinavian women of the Island, the group first met at the Mrs. H. P. Olsen home. The founding members were Mrs. William Lund, Mrs. Lena Lyngstad, Mrs. I. E. Grandma Rolfson, Mrs. Sam Mathison, Mrs. E. Rindahl, and Mrs. Theo Rolfson along with Mrs. Olsen. The group of Christian women were concerned about religious education for young people. They wanted to have a parochial summer school and they raised money for the effort. The first meeting notes were in Norwegian. By 1914 the membership had reached 14. Pastor Christenson of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Stanwood would come by horse and buggy to Utsaladdy twice a month to meet with the women and conduct services. However, the religious education was non-denominational. The group met monthly except during harvest or other times of home duties.

Besides supporting the parochial summer school, the women raised funds for a new building and for Washington Children's Home. Lutefisk dinners seemed to be the major way the group raised funds along with ice cream sales. By 1923 the building was complete, built with mostly volunteer labor and lumber from a local mill. The guidelines for use of the building included no dancing, drinking or gambling in the building which was to be called a "building" and not a "hall."

Ladies Aid 75th anniversary taken by Stanwood News
Ladies Aid 75th anniversary taken by Stanwood News. Note the Rafael print (Madonna and Child) at the far right. It still hangs in the building and is part of its important history. Mary Margaret Haugen and my mother are in the picture as well as many we recognize.

Over the years the building, which is now listed on the Washington State Heritage Register and the National Register of Historic Places, has hosted Sunday School, 4-H, Campfire groups, funerals, home extension programs, voting and parties. During World War II it was a first-aid station and sewing center for the Red Cross and the women were aircraft spotters. The building was also a center for scrap drives.

The club members have also raised funds for Korean charities. Some current members are descendants of the original members. Presently, the group also provides assistance for community members, awards scholarships to local girls, and contributes to the Stanwood-Camano Island Food Bank. A highlight each summer is the Old Settler's Picnic at the building. The Ladies Aid is an important women's history story and site, exemplifying women's concerns and activities over the past 100 years.

Jack Brown had a mill at Ustalady. This is his and his wife Laura Brown's home, with members of the Ladies Aid 1936-37
Jack Brown had a mill at Ustalady. This is his and his wife Laura Brown's home, with members of the Ladies Aid 1936-37 -- we can identify most of the the people.

Thanks to Donna Shroyer for her captions and help.